Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
We are a father/daughter team that have always collected rocks. We have always used rocks in our own home decor and wanted something to pad both of our incomes, and maybe for my dad to carry into is retirement. We consider ourselves makers.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
Michelle, the daughter of our father/daughter team has been an Etsy shopper for years and had always known it was an option. Etsy seemed it would compliment our items well, and we were already participating in in-person craft shows and makers marts so it seemed to be a natural next step.
What products do you sell, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
We sell various forms of rock décor. Of course, our pieces include rocks, but we get to make the decision if it’s polished, how it’s cut, and what we make into it. A lot of times the piece kind of decides for us, some rocks are better for oil lamps, some are better for business card holders, while others might just be great as a stand-alone piece. While rock oil lamps have been around for a while, we have never seen anyone else using high-end rocks and crystals in their pieces, which provides us with a way to differentiate ourselves.
How was your experience in learning to craft, are you self-taught or did you have a mentor, how long did it take for you to be satisfied with your creations?
We consider both of ourselves as crafty and handy. Chris, the father of our duo was taught from a young age how to do day-to-day home repairs, etc. And amassed a lot of knowledge and tools throughout the years that gave us some options. Michelle is more of the creative, and crafter of the duo, but being raised by Chris has developed the handyman type of lifestyle as well. Our product development involves a lot of experimenting with different tools, and materials. We spend a lot of time making prototypes of new items, then we “test” to see how well they sell, and then from there we try to figure out how to make them efficient and cost-effective. There have been some projects we have scrapped because we didn’t like the results, and others we never expected the success from.
What was your original goal when you opened up an Etsy shop? What impacted your decision to start selling online? Do you consider online selling as a side-job, full-time job, or extra income to pay for your hobby?
We both have full-time jobs, our goal was to pad both of our incomes, and hopefully supplement Chris’ retirement and give him something to do after leaving the workforce. We hope to continue to grow our business, and eventually, one of us or maybe both take it on full time.
Did you have any fears or reservations before opening up your Etsy shop? Were you worried about profitability or product competitiveness? What are some concerns and questions you had before you got started? How did you overcome them?
Of course, there were fears. It’s a vulnerable feeling to put something you’ve spent a lot of time and energy on the web to be critiqued by strangers. We weren’t certain that people outside of friends and family would like our products, so it was a slow and nervous start. We’re both the kind of people that if we are going to try something we give it our all, so we just dove in, and that would be our advice to others; just go for it.
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever think you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was the goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
Our first sale happened within the first few weeks of our shop being opened. We had no expectations going in, it was kind of an experiment. Our only goal, in the beginning, was to learn; to learn if we had a business here, if people would like our stuff, and if it was possible to make it a success and if it was something we would be interested in doing long term. Currently, we’re averaging about 20+ sales per week, which is exciting because we started the year averaging 2-3 sales per week.
Do you have a job outside Etsy? If not, are you able to commit full-time to online selling? How does your typical day look like? How do you manage time?
We both have full-time jobs outside of Esty. We’re not able to commit to full-time selling at the moment but it is our goal to grow our business to a point where it will be full time. Time management is difficult, the majority of our free time is poured into making, shipping, or listing our products, but we’re fortunate that we enjoy it, and it’s fun for the most part so it feels like a hobby too.
How does your manufacturing process look like for e.g. your best selling product? Do you create products ahead of the orders? Do you customize your products, if so how? What are the tools that you are using in the manufacturing process?
Each item we make is going to be different for the sole reason that no rocks are identical. Each rock might require a different drill bit, or different saw, or various adhesives depending on the type of rock and product we’re making. We also make the product in advance because there is a great opportunity for the risk of a piece breaking while manufacturing.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
We price our products in a way that we can ensure profitability after taking into account, shipping costs, cost of materials, and cost of labor.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
A lot of our ideas have come from seeing something practical, like a business card holder for example, and just having an idea of “oh let’s try making these out of rocks!”. We also sell at local craft shows and makers marts, and a lot of our customers have given us great ideas of what to try next.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
We have one product, our ring boxes that we sell internationally because they’re smaller and weigh less, they’re the most cost-effective to be able to ship internationally. We ship our orders no later than 3-5 days after ordering, typically priority mail. We package our items to ensure they arrive safely.
Are you worried about competitors? Does it impact your business in any way? If there are a lot of similar products, how do you make your own stand out?
We don’t necessarily worry about our competitors but we are aware of them. We continually look for ways to stand out, whether it be spending extra time on pictures, coming up with new ideas, and taking every chance we can get improve on our products.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
At the end of the day, we want to make sure our customer is happy. If we receive a bad rating, we make sure to reach out to the customer and discuss options of how to make their experience better. We are very responsive to our messages of questions and concerns and are usually able to come to a solution both we and the customer like.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever think you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed about dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
We had no expectations coming into our Esty shop, it was truly an experiment. Now that we are where we are, we want to continue to grow. We make our products before we list them so we have the stress of making sure we have enough variety and options within our shop at all times, but we are fortunate in that creating our items is fun, so it rarely feels stressful.
How important is social media for your shop? What are some common tactics you use to promote your products? Do you spend money on ads outside of Etsy? How do you generate excitement/hype around your products?
Social media and social media advertising are probably our weak spots. We’ve experimented with different types of ads along with different platforms and continually work to grow our own social media following.
What are some things you don’t like about Etsy? If you could talk to the CEO of Etsy what recommendations would you tell him to improve sellers and customer satisfaction?
I think it would be beneficial for Etsy to be more transparent in how their search engine works. I think it would be very beneficial for sellers to know how to drive more shoppers to their shops. And it would help shoppers desired products.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
We’re not really sure what set our shop up for success, it was years of trial and error, but no big aha moment or lesson learned the hard way, the whole experience has been a learning process.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
We would advise you to start small, learn what you don’t know with little risk, once that level is comfortable, take a step up, and repeat.